BATON ROUGE --- On a day when LSU honored its Final Four teams from the 1980s, the present day Tigers delivered a performance that had the home fans dreaming of the past.
Ole Miss entered Saturday’s game winless in SEC play but cruised to a 78-51 victory over the Tigers, dropping Trent Johnson’s squad to 2-2 in league play.
The Rebels shot an eye popping 70-percent from the field in the second half to bury the Tigers, who mustered only 19 points after the break.
“When they’re shooting the ball that well from three, there’s really nothing we can do about it,” said junior forward and former Rebel Malcolm White.
The Rebels drilled 7-of-10 from long range in the second half, but that wasn’t all. Ole Miss outscored the Tigers 28 to 12 in the paint and scored 23 points off of LSU’s 16 turnovers.
“The last two games have been embarrassing,” said freshman forward Matt Derenbecker. “We’ve been dominated in every aspect of the game. We couldn’t guard anyone. We couldn’t get a rebound.”
Entering the game LSU ranked first in the SEC in rebounding, averaging 43 per game. By contrast, Ole Miss entered the contest last in the league in rebounding at 28 per game.
The Rebels owned LSU on the glass all afternoon.
“The thing that bothers me is our inability to get loose balls and getting beat 33-19 on the glass,” said Johnson. “The last time we were here we dominated on the glass against an Arkansas team that was very similar.”
The zone defense that carried the Tigers to a 2-0 start in conference play was picked apart by Chris Warren and the Rebels who put four of five starters in double figures. Warren led the way with 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
LSU hung around early and even led the game 14-13 after a Storm Warren layup at the 11:08 mark in the first half. The Rebels lead by six at halftime, then came out firing after intermission.
The daggers came quick in the form of a 9-0 run that spanned 1:27 on the clock. Terrence Henry, Chris Warren and Trevor Gaskins stroked three straight 3-pointers to balloon the Rebel lead to 16 points with 14 minutes to play.
Ole Miss stretched the lead to 30 with less than a minute remaining in the game, hardly a dynamic performance in front of the biggest home crowd of the season, 8,060.
“Coach wanted us to reevaluate ourselves and look in the mirror,” said Derenbecker. “We’re all disappointed because this is not what we wanted from these past two games. We wanted to bounce back strong after this six day break. We’re just ready to get back to work.”
The slate doesn’t get any easier as the Tigers prepare to hit the road next week for contests with Tennessee and Alabama.
The first stop is in Knoxville, where the Tigers will take on the Vols at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.